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Such are the trials and tribulations of a small professional theatre company:

A while back I had emailed the Forbidden Planet cast with details about when rehearsals started, etc., and I had heard back from all but one of them. So last Friday, a few days before rehearsals started, I called Wayne, the one actor I hadn't heard from. But I couldn't get through -- his phone had been turned off. Luckily, another friend had a number in Colorado where Wayne (to my great surprise) was at the moment.

I talked to Wayne, who said he'd be back in St. Louis that weekend and he'd be at the first rehearsal Monday night. He said he was just in Colorado for a dance performance he was in.

Monday night, Wayne didn't show up. We tried that Colorado number, but no one answered. So after rehearsal, I sent him an email and messages on both MySpace and Facebook, asking what was up. The next morning, Wayne had uploaded pictures of himself and his friends drinking in Colorado, but he did not answer any of my messages. And then he didn't show up Tuesday night either.

Then I noticed on both his MySpace page and his Facebook page, he now listed Colorado City as his city. Huh??? I left more messages, email, voice mail, the whole shebang... And to this day, a week later, he will not respond.

I realize now Wayne has moved to Colorado to stay. (He's even offering dance lessons to people in Colorado City on his MySpace page.) And it seems pretty clear that he already knew that long before he and I talked on the phone and before he promised me he'd be back to start work on the show.

This doesn't happen often, but actors do drop out on occasion, sometimes for legitimate reasons, often not... But because we had already started rehearsals and were already learning the score, replacing Wayne was urgent. I put the word out to all my theatre friends that I needed a replacement.

Then I get a call from Nick Kelly, longtime New Liner -- actor, director, and our official fight choreographer when we need one -- he teaches acting and he knew an actor who was interested in stepping in, Mike Dowdy. I had seen Dowdy do improv (he's hilarious) and heard him sing (terrific tenor voice), so I talked to Mike about the details, and the Deal was Done. Crisis Averted.

Of course, now Mike has to do a lot of catch-up. But I think he'll be great. And I doubt he'll move to Colorado any time soon.

Long Live the Musical!